How a fintech company handled a fintech crisis

When Silicon Valley Bank collapsed earlier this month, it sent massive waves across the banking and venture capital worlds, and beyond.

Companies like RipplingBrex and many others scrambled to secure funding to offset not being able to access funds, while companies on the payments side, like Etsy, worked to find alternative ways to process payments.

Spend management company Airbase found itself straddling both of those worlds during the SVB crisis. TechCrunch+ spoke with CEO Thejo Kote about how Airbase not only had its funds with SVB but also was “the only spend management company that uses SVB as the payment rails for large parts of our platform.”

When all of this went down initially, much of the attention was focused on the depositors who held funds, Airbase included; SVB was its primary operating bank, Kote said. SVB went into receivership on March 10, but there wasn’t the first sigh of relief until March 12 when the U.S. government stepped in and said deposits would be protected.

“It was kind of a rollercoaster ride until that news [about the protected deposits] came out,” Kote said. “We had a unique front-row seat to this episode as a company that has its payment rails in SVB.”

Impact on the business

Airbase currently processes over $5 billion of annual payments on behalf of its customers, with a large portion flowing through SVB from customer bank accounts. On that particular day of the collapse, a “fairly large portion” of Airbase’s customers “had payments in flight,” Kote said.

That meant that not only were they drawing funds for payroll but also to pay vendors, including many time-sensitive payments. The funds in transit totaled